Investigation remains open following security threat in Paresky

On Wednesday at approximately 9:45 p.m., Director of Campus Safety and Security Dave Boyer sent an all-campus e-mail security alert stating that around 6:15 p.m. that evening, students reported a man in the first-floor women’s restroom of Paresky “using a red video camera to film underneath the stall divider.”

According to the e-mail, Security and the Williamstown Police Department (WPD) began to look for the suspect as soon as they arrived on the scene. The suspect was described as “a Caucasian male, about six feet tall, medium build, approximately late 20s to late 30s, wearing a jacket over a red hooded sweatshirt, jeans and black/white sneakers.”

“The complaint Security received was regarding a man in a women’s bathroom in Paresky videotaping underneath the stall,” Boyer said. “He was actually in a stall for quite some time, we heard. It was one of the middle stalls so he had access to at least two others.”

According to Boyer, the female student who lodged the complaint with Security entered a stall in the first-floor Paresky restroom, noticed a camera and immediately exited the stall. She informed a friend who had been washing her hands about the incident, and the two students waited outside for the individual who had been videotaping to come out.

“They didn’t confront him, but did get to see what he looked like and then followed him out of the building for a short distance to see where he was going,” Boyer said. After a few minutes, the students called Security, and officers and the WPD responded to the scene.

Security has continued the investigation. “We’re working with Sergeant Scott McGowan, lead investigator for the WPD, we’ve talked with officials at the [Williamstown] Savings Bank hoping that the ATM might have allowed us to see some images,” Boyer explained. “They were inconclusive, however. We’ve also talked to some additional witnesses.” Boyer also indicated that a staff member who had been present at the scene was able to assist in providing a more complete description of the suspect.

Security has partnered with local law enforcement and other colleges in the region in order to identify the perpetrator.  “We’ve put the description out in many different locations in the hopes that somebody would recognize that person from the description,” Boyer said. No conversations he has carried out thus far indicate that MCLA, Bennington College or any of the three local police departments have seen similar cases in their respective jurisdictions.

Assuming the perpetrator in question is apprehended, further action on Security’s part would depend on the individual’s status relative to the community. If the perpetrator is not a member of the College community, “we’ll take steps immediately to write a criminal trespass order to prevent that person from coming on College property,” Boyer said. “If it was an employee [or a] staff person, then we’d be working with Human Resources; if it was a student, we’d be working with the deans’ office,” he continued.

Boyer stressed that despite the uniqueness of this case at the College, it serves as a reminder that members of the campus community should always remain alert. “It’s something we haven’t had to necessarily worry about, but the fact that we have an open campus and the public has access to our buildings … [means that] there is no time you can let your guard down and not be aware of your surroundings,” Boyer said.

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